Katarina (Nina) Sutic-Bata is the first female professional engineer at the District of Saanich. She received her certificate from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists in February.

Engineering dreams come true for Saanich staffer

Woman who fled Serbia during the conflict in the 1990’s, has become the District of Saanich’s first female professional engineer

Nate Clark/News staff

It’s a story about following your dreams.

Katarina Sutic-Bata, who fled Serbia during the conflict in the 1990’s, has become the District of Saanich’s first female professional engineer.

“It was a long, windy road,” said Sutic-Bata from her office on Vernon Avenue. “There were a lot of difficult moments, but I decided to stick with it.”

Two decades ago, Sutic-Bata was already working as an engineer in the former Yugoslavia, but like millions of women, she put her career on the back-burner when she and her husband decided to raise a family.

“It’s a common story for female professionals,” said Sutic-Bata. “I put things on hold, and we focused on the kids and my husband’s career.”

After things heated up in the Balkans, she and her husband immigrated to Canada in 1993. For nearly a decade, her dream of becoming an engineer was only a distant memory.

Finally, in 2002, Sutic-Bata made the difficult decision to get back in the engineering game. Unfortunately, at that point, she found herself in the unenviable position of being a female immigrant without Canadian qualifications.

“My long break combined with my foreign credentials didn’t go over well in Canada. I had to start at the bottom of the barrel and slowly climb the ladder. But at the end of the day, I never gave up,” she said.

Finally, after another decade of slowly acquiring the required experience, Sutic-Bata found that she had just one final obstacle to overcome.

“It was the professional law and ethics exam. Once I passed, I gained my designation of professional engineer,” Sutic-Bata said, with a shy smile.

“It was a long process and my family is very proud. I use the whole experience to teach my children to never give up and pursue whatever they want to do, even when it’s difficult.”